Voluntary Associations

Christian Anarchism or Christian "Anarcho-capitalism" is not a society without order. It is a society ordered from the bottom up rather than the top down. Among the most important sources of social order are "voluntary associations."

Voluntary Associations and the Priesthood of All Believers

An important book is Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion. He details how early America was dominated by voluntary associations and "societies," such as "The Salem Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction of the Poor." 

At the Trough," by Roger Schultz, review of Olasky

"Compassionate Conservatism" - Olasky

I have already posted excerpts from Cremin's authoritative history of education, which discusses the tremendous influence upon education these societies had. There were many, many such societies, and they met an urgent need.

Rushdoony provides the following insights into DeTocqueville's day:

At [this] time, the United States was facing potentially revolutionary changes. The great influx of immigrants was beginning; people were pouring into the country who had little or no knowledge of its faith or heritage. They were simply seeking escape from tyranny and poverty and a better life for themselves.

In an important footnote, [Alexis de Tocqueville] saw the grim problem of the urban slums and their alien and criminal elements, declaring:

The United States have no metropolis; but they already contain several very large cities. Philadelphia reckoned 161,000 inhabitants and New York 202,000 in the year 1830. The lower orders which inhabit these cities constitute a rubble even more formidable than the populace of European towns. They consist of freed blacks in the first place, who are condemned by the laws and by public opinion, to an hereditary state of misery and degradation. They also contain a multitude of Europeans who have been driven to the shores of the New World by their misfortunes or their misconduct; and these men inoculate the United States with all our vices, without bringing with them any of those interests which counteract their baneful influence. As inhabitants of a country where they have no civil rights, they are ready to turn all the passions which agitate the community to their own advantage; thus, within the last few months serious riots have broken out in Philadelphia and in New York. Disturbances of this kind are unknown in the rest of the country, which is nowise alarmed by them, because the population of the cities has hitherto exercised neither power nor influence over the rural districts.

Nevertheless, I look upon the size of certain American cities, and especially on the nature of their population, as a real danger which threatens the future security of the democratic republics of the New World; and I venture to predict that they will perish from this circumstance, unless the government succeed in creating an armed force, which, while it remains under the control of the majority of the nation, will be independent of the town population, and able to repress its excesses.
(Democracy in America, I:316f., Langley ed.)

Unwed pregnant girls were often disposed of in Europe by buying them a one-way ticket to America, for them there to seek their ostensible level, usually prostitution. "Black sheep" sons were also sent off to the United States, or ran off to it. . . .

The reaction of some conservatives was political and repressive. . . .

Tocqueville felt that that United States would surely "perish" under this invasion 'unless the government succeed in creating an armed force . . . independent of the town population' and able to control it. . . .

Hostility toward foreigners led to the creation of various "native American" movements and political bodies. These organizations fed on hatred for outsiders and stimulated it by highly emotional charges and claims. More than a little violence was unleashed against various immigrant groups.

These organizations not only did not accomplish their purpose, but also did much damage to American life.

The orthodox Christian reaction was very different. A wide variety of societies were created to minister to the new problems: Sabbath Schools for immigrant children and Christian day schools as well were created; English was taught to adults; missions were started; orphanages, relief societies, Bible societies, societies to deal with various vices, these and hundreds of other organizations were established to deal with every kind of problem which arose. The future of America was shaped by this massive effort at Christian reconstruction. The "native American" movement failed; the Christian reconstruction was so extensive that it became the real government of American society. . . . Alexis de Tocqueville, in commenting on the impact of non-ecclesiastical, societal Christianity on America, noted that authority in America was religious and that "there is no country in the whole world in which the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America." (op cit., I:332)

The 'Native American' movements did much harm to American life. They were noisy in their claims that they represented "real Americanism," but they were at best a neutralizing force to progress and Christianity. At their worst, they were anti-Christian and un-American in the name of Christ and America. By claiming to be the conservative force -- which they were not, for they had no appreciation for their puritan heritage -- they brought discredit on that heritage.

On the other hand, orthodox Christians, by their zeal to bring every man under the renewing power of God, did more than anyone else to cope with the central problems of American life. . . .

R.J. Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity, pp. 216ff.

Alexis de Tocqueville, 
Chapter 5: Of the Use Which the Americans Make of Public Associations in Civil Life

Second Book: Influence of Democracy on the Feelings of the Americans
Democracy in America, Volume 2

The civil government under the Founding Fathers publicly and officially ENCOURAGED these Christian "societies" -- they did not take the position of contemporary church-state jurisprudence, which says that government must never "endorse" or encourage Christian solutions to social problems like illiteracy and immorality.

As the New Hampshire Constitution, Art 1, sec. 6, "Bill of Rights" said,

As morality and piety rightly grounded on evangelical principles will give the best and greatest security to government and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to due subjection; and as the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated through a society by the institution of the public worship of the Deity and of public instruction in morality and religion; therefore, to promote these important purposes, the people of this State have a right to empower, and do hereby fully empower, the legislature to authorize, from time to time, the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within this State to make adequate provision at their own expense for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality.

America was made great by Christian charity, and the Constitution did not abolish or prohibit this.

Secular Humanism has been imposed on America in an unconstitutional manner, and charity has also been crippled.

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